Friday, December 25, 2009

Κίνηση συμπαράστασης στη Θάλεια Δραγώνα

Η προκλητική επίθεση των ακροδεξιών με τη συμμετοχή βουλευτών του γνωστού χώρου κατά της Θάλειας Δραγώνα, χρειάζεται την έντονη καταδίκη μας. Όσοι θέλετε να υπογράψετε το παρακάτω κείμενο, που διακινεί ο καθηγητής Ν. Αλιβιζάτος, μπορείτε να το κάνετε ηλεκτρονικά (μέχρι αύριο) στην διεύθυνση: val12law@otenet.gr

Όχι στο νέο κυνήγι μαγισσών


Τις τελευταίες βδομάδες, η συνάδελφος Θάλεια Δραγώνα, καθηγήτρια του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών και πρώην βουλευτής, αποτελεί στόχο επαναλαμβανόμενων οξύτατων επιθέσεων εκ μέρους της άκρας δεξιάς, με αφορμή τον διορισμό της ως Ειδικής Γραμματέως του Υπουργείου Παιδείας. Το περασμένο Σάββατο μάλιστα (19.12.2009), έξω από το γραφείο της στη λεωφόρο Συγγρού, τέσσερις βουλευτές του ως άνω χώρου, σε ένα εθνικιστικό παραλήρημα, αξίωσαν την άμεση απομάκρυνσή της, για δήθεν έλλειψη πατριωτισμού.
Οι επιθέσεις κατά της Θάλειας Δραγώνα ξεχωρίζουν από άλλες ανάλογες, που εξαπολύονται όλο και πιο συχνά  κατά πανεπιστημιακών, γιατί είναι η πρώτη φορά που στοχοποιείται πρόσωπο που κατέχει δημόσιο αξίωμα. Και τούτο, χωρίς να βάλλονται πολιτικές αποφάσεις (προς τις οποίες είναι φυσικό  σε μια δημοκρατία να εκδηλώνονται διαφωνίες, ακόμη και έντονες), ούτε καν πολιτικές εξαγγελίες. Απεναντίας, με συστηματική παραπληροφόρηση για την κ. Δραγώνα και με διαστρέβλωση  φράσεων και λέξεων από παλαιότερα γραπτά της, σπιλώνεται η τιμή και η υπόληψή της για επιστημονικές απόψεις.
Η επίθεση εναντίον της κ. Δραγώνα πρέπει να απομονωθεί ως ένα ακόμη δείγμα στο κυνήγι των μαγισσών που ο συγκεκριμένος πολιτικός χώρος διεξάγει κατά των αντιπάλων του, εκμεταλλευόμενος την άγνοια των πολλών και τον φανατισμό των λίγων. Συμπαραστεκόμαστε στη Θάλεια Δραγώνα, καλώντας την κυβέρνηση να δώσει την αρμόζουσα απάντηση. Και τούτο στο όνομα των πολιτικών αρχών και αξιών, που η τοποθέτησή της κ. Δραγώνα  σε μια τόσο καίρια θέση εκφράζει, ειδικά σήμερα.
Αθήνα, 23 Δεκεμβρίου 2009
Μπορείτε να υπογράψετε σ’ αυτήν την διεύθυνση: val12law@otenet.gr

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Κωπηλάτες (περιοδικό συζήτησης και προβληματισμού)


Visiting the centre of Athens in the run-up to Christmas can be a harrowing experience and my visit to my favourite bookshops confirmed this. At this time of the year browsing through their bookshelves is a very crowded affair but sometimes can reward you with the unexpected discovery of fascinating finds. This is exactly what happened to me when I came across the review Κωπηλάτες (περιοδικό συζήτησης και προβληματισμού). The 3d issue of the review boasts seven articles examining the relationship between the Greek society and its neighbours. As the introductory note by its editor, Petros Markaris, indicates, this issue is intended to challenge the ignorance and oblivion that provides nationalist entrepreneurs of all hues with the opportunity to cultivate chauvinism and a state of fear and xenophobia. Articles on Greece and its relationship with its neighbours by Alexis Iraklidis, two decades of disastrous Greek policy on the Macedonian issue by Sifis Fitsanakis and on the Balkans and the eyes of others by Lena Divani are just the cherry on the top of an exquisite excursus on the notion of the other in contemporary Greece. This is definitely one of the most daring and well planned intervention that makes Κωπηλάτες a most valuable forum of critical thought.

Μια επίσκεψη στο κέντρο της Αθήνας τις παραμονές των χριστουγέννων μπορεί να αποτελέσει δοκιμή και η επίσκεψή μου στα αγαπημένα μου βιβλιοπωλεία μάλλον επιβεβαίωσε κάτι τέτοιο. Η αναζήτηση βιβλίων στά ράφια τους τέτοιες μέρες μέσα στο πλήθος μπορεί να σε ανταμείψει με την απρόσμενη ανακάλυψη κάποιου σπάνιου ευρήματος. Αυτό ακριβώς μου συνέβη όταν βρέθηκα μπροστά στο τρίτο τεύχος της πολιτικής επιθεώρησης με τίτλο Κωπηλάτες (περιοδικό συζήτησης και προβληματισμού). Το συγκεκριμένο τεύχος περιέχει επτά άρθρα που εξετάζουν την σχέση της Ελληνικής κοινωνίας με τους γείτονές της. Όπως κάνει σαφές και το εισαγωγικό σημείωμα του διευθυντή του περιοδικού Πέτρου Μάρκαρη το τεύχος αυτό αποσκοπεί στην κριτική αντιμετώπιση της άγνοιας η οποία επιτρέπει στους κάθε είδους εθνοκάπηλους να καλλιεργούν τον σωβινισμό και την ξενοφοβία.

Άρθρα όπως αυτό του Αλέξη Ηρακλείδη για τον εθνοκεντρισμό στις Ελληνοτουρκικές σχέσεις, ή του Σήφη Φιτσανάκη για την καταστροφική διαχείρηση του Μακεδονικού επί δύο δεκαετίες ή της Λένας Διβάνη με τίτλο «Τα Βαλκάνια και τα μάτια των άλλων αποτελούν ένα μικρό δειγμα του τι επιφυλάσσεται στον αναγνώστη. Οι Κωπηλάτες είναι αναμφίβολα ένα ανεκτίμητο forum κριτικής σκέψης και προβληματισμού»).

Το τρίτο αλλά και τα προηγούμενα τευχη του περιοδικού μπορείτε να προμηθευτείτε στο βιβλιοπωλείο των εκδόσεων Γαβριηλίδη (Μαυρομιχάλη 18, Αθήνα, τηλ. 210-3636514).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community treated as “second-class citizens"

The Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew has been critical of the stance of the Turkish government towards the Patriarchate and the country's remnants of its once large and vibrant Christian Orthodox community in an interview with CBS television.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Patriarch Bartholomew said Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community does not feel that they enjoy full freedoms as Turkish citizens and that they are treated as “second-class citizens.”
Referring to circles within the Turkish establishment, the Patriarch said “[They] would be happy to see the patriarchate extinguished or moving abroad, but our belief is that it will never happen”. “I have visited the prime minister, many ministers, submitting our problems … asking [them] to help us,” with no success.

The European Union and the US have frequently criticized Turkey for not reopening the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary closed in 1971 and not taking measures to protect the patriarchate’s property rights.

The Halki seminary closure for almost four decades has meant that the Patriarchate has virtually no senior clergymen from Turkey's orthodox community and therefore faces a bleak future. The Turkish government says it has been assessing a number of legal options to open the Halki Seminary - which Bartholomew says is of vital importance for the survival of the Greek Orthodox clergy. It has also pushed for a law to restore the property rights of non-Muslim foundations despite objections from the opposition. The law expands property rights for non-Muslim foundations but does not change the status of property seized by the state in past decades and therefore does not redress decades of punitive legislation and policy towards Turkey's Orthodox minority.

“It is not [a] crime … to be a minority living in Turkey, but we are treated as … second class,” Patriarch Bartholomew told CBS. We don’t feel that we enjoy our full rights as Turkish citizens.”

Asked whether he would consider going to Greece, he said he would stay in Turkey. “This is the continuation of Jerusalem and for us an equally holy and sacred land. We prefer to stay here, even crucified sometimes”.

Patriarch Bartholomew’s remarks have led to expressions of irritation and anger in Ankara. Turkish government spokesman Cemil Çiçek echoed Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s criticism of the Patriarch. Çiçek said the ruling Justice and Development Party has been committed to the process of democratization and increasing rights and freedoms since it came to power in 2003 and stressed that demands should be discussed inside the country."

The fact is, that despite the Turkish government's expressed good will, the problems faced by the Patriarchate and the country's orthodox community, whose rights have been enshrined in the Lausanne Treaty, have not been addressed as yet. A once sizeable community barely counts today 3,000 people and its mark on the Istanbul cityscape has systematically been obliterated by successive overzealous governments.

Instead of castigating the Patriarch for his agonizing cry, perhaps the Turkish government should attempt to address the pressing needs of those Turkish citizens his voice sought to represent.

The problems faced by the Patriarchate in Turkey, just as the headscarf issue in a number of Western European countries or the recent minaret ban in Switzerland indicate that it is time to cast a critical look at the aggressive secularism that is often used as a means of weakening vulnerable minorities.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

11 December 2009: Turkey's Constitutional Court bans the pro-Kurdish Demokratik Toplum Partisi



Following a lawsuit filed by Chief Public Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya on November 16, 2007, the Turkish Constitutional Court has decided yesterday to shut down the Demokratik Toplum Partisi (Democratic Society Party) due to the party’s alleged links with the  PKK. Following 9-hour deliberations on the fourth day of the case, Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç said that its members voted unanimously to close down the DTP as it became a focal point of acts against the indivisible integrity of the state.

The result of this controversial decision is that, yet again, voices advocating human rights protection for Turkish Kurds are stifled, and the largest pro-Kurdish political force that had made considerable inroads in the Turkish political system by wining in nine provinces in the 2009 local elections is now seriously impaired. Thirty seven DTP members, including DTP Chairman Ahmet Türk and MP Aysel Tuğluk were banned from politics for five years. The rump parliamentary group that survived the sweeping effects of this decision has now been stripped of its parliamentary group rights. Already the news is being received with apprehension in Turkey’s Southeastern, largely Kurdish-populated provinces. On occasion, apprehension has given way to violent expressions of frustration as sporadic news from the Hakkari province indicate.


As it has been pointed out by several commentators the ban on the DTP is certain to undermine confidence in the democratic process and the government's current reform initiative. Turkey’s Prime Minister himself warned that a decision to effectively exclude Kurdish politicians from the country’s parliament could "push them toward illegal action" and bring them closer to PKK. The fact is that the voices that have emerged from the DTP have been marked by moderation. The leader of the banned party said that Turkey could not resolve problems by banning political parties and added that problems would be resolved through dialogue and logic. However he also warned that the obstruction of democratic politics will deepen a sense of hopelessness and voicelessness for many of Turkey's citizens.

Clearly, the Political Parties Law (Law No. 2820/1983), which was used in the case against the DTP as well the earlier attempt of the prosecutors to close down the governing AKP, proves to be a major inhibitor to the development of a genuinely democratic political system. Not only is it a deeply undemocratic instrument that treats the Turkish electorate with suspicion but also it constitutes a distorting and destabilizing factor in Turkish politics. It is a ‘legal’ means of bringing about changes that in the past were the product of the mobilization of the tanks in military coups or ultimata. In the longer term, it hinders the process of integration of political forces and the diverse views they bring into the political system.

The question is ‘for how long will Turkey’s judicial, military and bureaucratic establishment be able to promote its modernization with restricted democratization model as the way forward of an immensely diverse and polyphonic society?'

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In the long shadow of Europe: Greeks and Turks in the era of Postnationalism

In the long shadow of Europe: Greeks and Turks in the era of Postnationalism
Edited by Othon Anastasakis, Kalypso Aude Nicolaidis, Kerem Oktem, St Antony's College, University of Oxford

Can the European Union transform Greek-Turkish relations? The contributors to In the Long shadow of Europe examine the ambiguities of Europe’s historical role in its Southeastern corner to shed light on the possible paths lying ahead. From their various an-gles, they highlight the paradoxes of a relationship between intimate adversaries, marred by tormented histories, nationalist narratives and bilateral disputes but strengthened by historical familiarity, geographic vicinity, and the imperative for cooperation. And beyond this face à face, the authors show how, as Greece and Turkey developed into independent nation-states in the shadow of Europe, their intertwined trajectories also contributed to defining this same Europe “at the edges.” Beyond the Greek - Turkish relationship, this book illustrates the considerable challenges the European Union faces as a mediating power both within and outside its borders.


Introduction
The long shadow of Europe
Othon Anastasakis, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Kerem Öktem

I. Tormented histories, interwoven identities: National narratives of Self and Others
1. Tormented by history: Greece, Turkey and the territorial imagination
Spyros Sofos and Umut Özkırımlı
2. The Lure of Europe: Reconciling the European Other and Turkish/Greek selves
Nora Onar
3. History’s long shadow: The Lausanne treaty and contemporary Greco-Turkish relations
Renee Hirschon
4. Perceptions of conflict: Greeks and Turks in each others’ mirrors
Hercules Millas
5. Genos versus Devlet: Conceptions of citizenship in Greece and Turkey
Ayşe Kadıoğlu

II. Conflicts and openings: Greece, Turkey and the European Union
6. Fault Lines or Integration: The EU impact on Greek-Turkish relations
Gülnur Aybe
7. Reciprocity as race to the bottom in religious freedom
Ioannis Grigoriadis
8. Towards minority policies beyond reciprocity? The EU, Greece and Turkey
Samim Akgönül
9. The Deceiving Shadow of the EU? Cypriot perceptions of the ‘The European Solution’
James Ker-Lindsay
10. Europeanization and Nationalism in the Turkish – Greek – Aegean disputes
Harry Tzimitras
11. EU, Turkey and Greece: The paradoxes of convergence
Nikos Kotzias

III. Beyond high politics: Promise and limits of rapprochement
Economic cooperation: Guarantor of détente or hostage to politics?
Constantinos Papadopoulos
Rapprochement at the grassroots: How far can civil society engagement go?
Rana Birden and Bahar Rumelili
Transforming Divides: Commerce, culture and sympathy crossing the Greek Turkish border
Eleni Myrivili